SINGAPORE: Airbus has taken yet another step towards the winding down of its A380 programme with the delivery of the jumbo jet to Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) on Wednesday (Mar 20).
ANA is the final airline to add the aircraft to its fleet for the first time, before production is finally halted in 2021.
Flightglobal's Asia managing editor Greg Waldron told Channel NewsAsia that this represents “a bittersweet moment for Airbus” after the European aircraft manufacturer officially cancelled the A380 programme in February.
“They (Airbus) will still deliver a few more (A380s) to Emirates, but ANA is its last new customer delivery.”
Airbus announced in February that the A380 programme would be cancelled after Emirates - the largest A380 customer - decided to reduce its orders for the iconic superjumbo and order a total of 70 of the smaller A350 and A330neo jets instead.
In a statement, ANA said the jet will enter service on May 24 and will only operate between Tokyo and Hawaii for now.
This is the first of three Airbus A380s that will be delivered to the Star Alliance carrier.
“We will commit all three of our Airbus A380 to the Tokyo-Honolulu route with the goal of introducing a new level of luxury service to our passengers flying ANA on the number one resort route for Japanese travelers,” said Shinya Katanozka, president and CEO of ANA.
“We believe the A380 will become a game changer for ANA and will enable us to increase our market share by doubling the number of seats connecting Honolulu and Tokyo by 2020.”
“ANA has put in a lot of effort into marketing the Airbus A380 to the Japanese market. However, the challenge for them is to make sure that they can fill the seats up,” added Mr Waldron who also said that the aircraft represents an addition of “a lot of capacity” on a popular route, which could see an impact on ticket prices.
ANA added that it has configured its A380s with 520 seats across four classes.
The upper deck will feature eight first class suits, 56 business class seats and 73 premium economy seats. The main deck will have 383 economy class seats, of which 60 will be in a couch design – the first of its kind implemented by a Japanese airline.
ANA’s first Airbus A380 features a Hawaiian sky blue livery, while its second will come in a Hawaiian ocean emerald green livery, said the Star Alliance member. The latter is expected to be complete its paint job on Mar 25.